Global Times: The Chinese are concerned about the Gaza Strip. With new helmsmen, how will China see its independent foreign policy of peace and non-intervention unfold?
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China backs Egypt mediation
by Hao Zhou
Source – Global Times, published November 22, 2012
China supports mediation efforts made by Egypt and other Arab nations as well as the League of Arab States (LAS) to ease the current tensions in Gaza, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday.
“China is paying great attention to the situation in the Gaza Strip,” Hua told reporters.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr over the phone about the situation there, expressing China’s support for Egypt and other Arab states as well as the LAS, she said.
Hua said China has maintained close contact with Israel, Palestine and other relevant parties. “We urge all parties concerned, Israel in particular, to show maximum restraint, reach a ceasefire as soon as possible and avoid taking any actions to escalate the situation,” she said.
The spokeswoman said China supports necessary actions taken by the international community, including the UN Security Council.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo on Wednesday and went straight into talks with President Mohamed Morsi amid efforts to broker a truce in Gaza.
After talks in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, US Secretary of State Clinton held a second meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday before heading to Egypt, which has been the main broker in efforts to end eight days of fighting and avert a possible Israeli ground offensive.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi also met with Clinton Wednesday to discuss ways to stop the violence in Gaza.
In Tel Aviv, at least 21 people were wounded Wednesday when a bus was blown up on a main street near the Defence Ministry and military headquarters, according to Haaretz. Israel’s government denounced it as a terrorist attack.
The explosion, which was caused by a bomb placed inside the vehicle, triggered celebratory gunfire from militants in Gaza and threatened to complicate truce efforts.
“There is no ceasefire yet,” Matan Vilnai, former Israeli minister for Home Front Defense and now the Israeli ambassador to China, told a press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.
“Of course, Israel prefers a diplomatic way to realize its goal – defending its people from Hamas rocket attacks. We want a permanent mechanism, guaranteed by Egypt and the US, to restrain Hamas from launching rockets toward Israeli civilians,” Vilnai said, adding that Israel hopes Egypt would help stem the smuggling of ammunition across its Sinai border to the Gaza Strip.
In response to questions on whether Israel will send ground troops into Gaza, another Israeli official told the Global Times that this is not what Israel wants, though it can eradicate Hamas strongholds and “secure a longer peace.”
“The ground operation will surely cause more casualties, from both sides,” the official said. “What we want is just a guaranteed promise by Hamas to stop launching rockets and let our people in southern Israel live normal lives.”
Also on Wednesday, Hua announced that Bassam al-Salhi, the Palestinian president’s special envoy as well as secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party, will visit China from Thursday to Saturday. The agenda for his visit has not been finalized.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air raids since last Wednesday. Israel has reported five deaths in Palestinian rocket attacks.
Agencies contributed to this story